On Fear

A lot of people have told me that they would be scared to take a trip of this magnitude. Given that, I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I am completely scared crapless.

But here is the thing – I don’t think fear is a good factor when making big decisions. We aren’t really wired (or inclined) to undergo significant changes. We like safety and security and known entities – I’m not really that different, in those ways. I love my home, and all of the little knick-knacks and things that make it comforting. I love my friends and my community, and knowing they are only a few blocks away if I need them. Those things are as important to me as they are to the next person.

Saying that, I think there is a difference between deep seated gut instincts (like when you simply know someone is off or dangerous) and the little voices in our heads that tell us we shouldn’t do things because they aren’t normal or standard or typical of most of our life paths.

Look, I’m quitting my great job, at an extraordinary organization, in order to do something completely unknown and unknowable. Of course I’m freaked out by it. I’m scared something ‘bad’ could happen. I’m scared that when I get back, I won’t find another job and will be adrift and more lost than I currently am. I’m scared of the standard things, like car crashes and malaria and ‘bad’ people who might enjoy making me a target – but I just refuse to let those fears manifest in ways that prevent me from living my life.

Because the thing is, the world is a scary place. “Bad” things happen all the time. Recently,a friend of mine was in a four-car pileup on the way home from his work. (He’s ok). Another friend, a yogi and health-nut, was diagnosed with tongue cancer. (He made it through). In August 2011, London was burning in riots – who saw that coming?

The point is, nothing is really ever completely ‘safe.’ We can’t entirely insulate ourselves, nor do I think we should try. I would consider it a life wasted if all of my decisions were based entirely on what I ‘should’ do (or what felt safest) versus what is deeply rooted in my gut.

Now – I’m not crazy. I have every intention of coming back to my home, my seaside town, and my amazing community. I’ll work hard to find another job, and pay my bills, and do those things that, well, we generally need to do. But we only get so many shots in life to do things that are different, or maybe a little crazy – and I’m a believer that seizing those opportunities make us stronger, better, livelier, healthier, and most of all, happier – than were we to always play it safe.

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